Probably the nicest thing about Jonell's was the giant vase of peach and yellow gladiolas behind the bar. Did it always have fresh flowers? If so, I bet Stuart Little helped himself when the lights were off and everyone was gone. You know, to further brighten up his place. Actually, the blooms were so large, they might even make a comfy easy chair.

Next up on the jukebox was "The Big Payback," with James Brown proclaiming, "I'm a man!" I realized that this was probably a nod to the garbagemen's strike in Memphis in 1968, when the sanitation workers carried signs bearing that simple statement. Martin Luther King Jr. was in town to support the strike when he was killed.

Outside the door, old men of color, bent over canes, were shuffling back to their SROs. The bartender had a nice wave for all of them. Like I said, in the Tenderloin, amid so much seeming inhumanity, there is more acceptance and kindness than maybe any other neighborhood.

And that is probably why the mice stay, too.

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